Testing software has always been an important part of SDLC. It is a simple yet time consuming process that allows a software engineer to validate multifarious qualities and features of the software. With the assistance of rigorous testing, one can ensure that the software is being developed as per the needs of the client and is in conformance with the standards and regulations stated by the clients. Performed manually or with the help of automated tools, testing is one such process without which a developer cannot build a defectless, efficient, functionally superior software. The purpose of this article is to define the fundamentals of testing, while elaborating the importance of software testing.
Defining Software testing:
Software testing is a set of activities conducted with the intent of finding bugs and errors in a software product. It is a process that verifies and validates whether the program is working correctly with no bugs or not. It is about testing a feature with varying test data to get a result and then comparing it with expected result. In short, software testing is a crucial activity that is performed to identify the accuracy, completeness and quality of the developed product.
Why is Testing Necessary?
Making mistakes is human being’s hamartia (fatal flaw). No matter what the task, we tend to make mistakes, even after taking extreme precautions. Likewise, in software development life cycle too there are several instances where human negligence and mistakes lead to bugs and discrepancies, which when executed can cause failure. Therefore, to avoid such a scenario, it becomes necessary for software engineers to implement testing throughout the development process, as it helps them develop a bug free software with innovative and useful features. Other reasons that make testing necessary are:
It measures the quality of the software.
Gives confidence in the quality.
Reduces the overall level of risks.
Allows root cause analysis of bugs and defects.
Helps measure the reliability of the software.
Verifies and validates user requirements.
The process of software testing can be best defined in terms of testing objectives, as each type of testing has its own specific objective and requirement, which needs to be achieved to ensure successful development & testing of the product. Moreover, these testing objectives need to be stated in a form that is understandable and achievable by the testers. Additionally, these needs to be in compliance with tester’s attitude to ensure that applications work as specified in requirements documents. These various objective of testing are:
Defect detection & prevention.
Collecting and providing information for decision making.
Gaining confidence about testing level.
To provide bug free applications.
To validate compliance with specified client requirements.
User requirement verification and validation.
Describing strategies for generating system test cases.
Seven Testing Principles:
While conducting software testing, it is vital for software testers to achieve optimum test results without deviating from the main objective of testing. To ensure this, it is important for testers- new or experienced -to stick to some reliable and effective testing principles, which can help them perform effective testing effortlessly. These principles are extremely significant and are followed by testers all over the world. Therefore, following are seven principles of software testing:
Shows Presence of Defects: Testing reduces the probability of undiscovered defects remaining in the software. Even if there are no defects found during the process of testing, it does not guarantee the correctness of the system.
Exhaustive Testing is Impossible: During the process of testing, it is not feasible as well as possible for testers to perform exhaustive testing, wherein they can test all combination of inputs and preconditions. Hence, the focus of testing efforts should be on risk detection and analysis.
Early Testing To ensure early detection of defects, it is important for software engineers to implement testing during the early stages of software development life cycle (SDLC). Moreover, to get accurate results testing should be focused on defined objectives.
Defect Clustering: When defects are centralized in one small module and are not distributed uniformly across the software, then it is termed as defect clustering. This might seem a huge hassle for the testers, but is quite helpful as it allows them to detect excessive amount of defects at one place.
Pesticide Paradox: Continuous iteration of same test cases prohibits users from detecting undiscovered defects in the software. To overcomes such a scenario, it is crucial for software testers to regularly review and revise test cases as well as write new ones if required. This enables testers to exercise different parts of the software and potentially detect more number of defects.
Context Dependent: As no two software systems are similar to each other, the process of testing it too is different and context dependent. It can vary from one software to another and can be implemented with the assistance of various techniques, methodologies, types, etc.
Absence of Error Fallacy: Absence of defects from software does not guarantee it is reliable and usable. This can be the case if it has been tested with wrong requirements and is not fulfilling the user requirements and needs.
Fundamental Test Process:
When it comes to testing a software, testers all around the world use one fundamental test processthat guarantees exceptional defect detection and prevention. This process involves continuous monitoring and controlling, which enables software testers to take necessary preventive measures whenever required. Moreover, it allows a tester to verify the compatibility of the process with the plan and ensure that it is being developed as per client’s requirements. Hence, the process of testing involves the following activities:
Planning & Control: The first and most important stage of the process, planning and control involves determining the objectives and goals of testing, its various scopes as well as risks, among other things. Performed throughout the life cycle, this process involves constant monitoring, which allows testers to take control of situations, where testing is not in conformance with the stated standards and plan.
Analysis & Design: During this stage, testers review the test basis, such as requirements, standards, design specifications, etc. Additionally, they identify the test conditions, required infrastructure and tools, while designing tests and environment set-up.
Implementation & Execution: This is the stage where the main work is done. Here, the team comes along and executes the test cases with test data. To ensure the accuracy of the outputs, the test environment is checked, while updating traceability between test basis and test cases. At the end of this stage, the output, along with various errors are reported.
Evaluating Exit Criteria & Reporting: The main objective of this stage is to evaluate and assess the results and outputs from the implementation and execution stage. The team checks logs against exit criteria, which was already decided during the initial stage. After the culmination of evaluation, a summary report is created, which offers a better understanding of the test to the concerned stakeholders.
Test Closure: Last, but or sure not the least important stage of the process, test closure is mainly performed at the end of the process, though there are situations where it is implemented earlier, like if the test is terminated for some reason. Other tasks performed here are:
Closing incident report.
Ensuring all deliverables are delivered.
Documentation of all the systems and activities performed for future reference.
After the culmination of the testing process, it is vital for us to understand the various psychological factors that have an impact on testing as well as the its output. These can help make the process of testing more convenient for the testers and allow them to execute the testing more effectively. Therefore, following are three major factors that define the psychology of testing.
Mindset of Developer & Tester: Though the roles and tasks performed by software testers and developers are vastly different from one another, they both strive to make the application better and unique. Hence, to ensure optimum performance, quality, & effectiveness of the application, it is necessary for the software engineers to have different mindsets, which allow them to develop and test various aspects of the application and ensure its efficiency.
Communication in a Constructive Manner:: During the process of software development and testing, communication done in an constructive manner can help both testers and developers. However, if not done in a courteous manner, it can cause tension among team members and testers. Therefore, while communicating the defects and bugs to various members of the project, the testers should be considerate and courteous and should consider the reactions of the people involved. As testing can be a destructive activity, the testers should make sure that they communicate them in a polite manner.
Test Independence: While performing the process of testing, there should be a balance between self testing and independent testing. Independent testing is an extremely beneficial process and allows one to avoid author bias and helps detect more bugs, defects and failures. Therefore, there are various ways in which independent tests are performed, such as test by the person who wrote the item, or by a different member of the same team, or by an individual from a different organization. With the assistance of test one can validate the quality of the software.
Code of Ethics:
Just like any other profession or work, the process of testing too follows a code of ethic, which helps establish trust and faith on the the testers, developers, and other members of the team. As the process of testing and software development exposes testers and developers to various important as well as confidential information and details about the organization, these code of ethics allow them to maintain secrecy and confidentiality. These are series of principles to guide and govern practise of software testers and developers. Moreover, these principles are laid down on the basis of various factors, some of which are mentioned below:
Public: Certified testers should execute the process of testing, while ensuring that the public interests are not hurt or harmed by their actions.
Client & Employer: The testers and team members should act according to the requirements of the client and employer.
Product: The team should ensure that the product they are delivering is of superior quality and has the highest professional standards possible.
Judgement: The team should maintain integrity and independence in their judgement as it helps them ensure the quality of the product and allows them to meet the stated requirements effectively.
Management: The team should promote effective and ethical management throughout the testing process. This is mainly ensured by the team lead and managers.
Profession: With the assistance of effective and ethical approaches they should be able to advance the learning and integrity of their profession.
From the above discussion, we can easily conclude that testing is an extremely important part of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and requires careful attention of both developers and testers. Performed and executed with the assistance of various tools, techniques, and methodology, it follows a fundamental process, which allows testers to check, evaluate, monitor, and control various activities of the process. With the assistance of this software testing, one can ensure the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the software while validating its conformance with the stated requirements and rules.